Weddings are the most popular time to eat shark fin
Shark Fin Soup is a standard feature at Chinese wedding banquets and is seen as a symbol of wealth and of respect for one’s guests.
However, in a local survey*, 78% of Hong Kong Chinese people considered it acceptable NOT to include shark fin in a wedding banquet menu. We believe this statistic indicates that Hong Kong is ready to embrace the concept of shark-free weddings.
Large scale impact
There is no commonly accepted formula for attributing the number of sharks killed to serve a typical wedding banquet – e.g. the originator of the Happy Hearts Love Sharks wedding contest, Canadian organisation Shark Truth, estimates that 100 bowls of soup equates to roughly 10 sharks (i.e. approximately one shark per table at a typical Chinese wedding banquet).
In truth, the number of sharks killed depends on the quality of the soup (i.e.
proportion of fin included), the type of shark, the type of fin and, of course,
the number of guests. However, given that Chinese wedding banquets typically cater for several hundred guests at a time, it is fair to say that dozens of sharks are killed for every single Chinese wedding banquet serving shark fin.
A lesson for the industry
87% of people who eat shark fin soup do not order it specifically, but eat it as part of a set menu. For reasons of profitability, banqueting vendors automatically include shark fin as a standard feature of Chinese wedding banqueting menus and, sometimes, it can be quite difficult to get it removed. However, evidence suggests that an increasing
number of couples are already requesting an appropriate (i.e. delicious, status-worthy AND environmentally sustainable) alternative. The organisers of this competition hope that our campaign will incentivize more and more wedding venues to accommodate such alternatives, and to even incentivize more couples to have shark-free weddings.
For a list of some current vendors providing shark-free banqueting menus, please visit WWF-Hong Kong’s website.
*”Survey on Shark Consumption Habits & Attitudes in Hong Kong”, 2011, completed by BLOOM with the University of Hong Kong Social Sciences Research Center.